There’re tracks by Kanye I like, and I have a great deal of respect and affection for Jay-Z (both because of and despite “The Story of O.J.“), but I’m sorry: As artists, neither have a patch on Donald Glover. The clarity and breadth of his thought and expression are dazzling and compact and searingly intense; it’s like getting hit in the chest with a frozen super-critical sphere of napalm.
The Humble “Makerspace” Book Bundle from No Starch Press is live an insanely good deal! Pay a buck, and get six rad DIY-ish books (including my first book—Snip, Burn, Solder, Shred—as well as a few of my No Starch favorites). Pay $8, and get another six books (including my second DIY book, Junkyard Jam Band). Pay a bit more…well, you get the picture. All in, you can drop $20 and get more than $400 worth of DIY while supporting excellent charities.
There are so many books I love in this one! Yoshihito Isogawa’s LEGO Technic books are both amazing and agelessly inspiring, Carlos Bueno’s Lauren Ipsum has been huge for my son (he read it twice in a row when it first came out, and still hits it again a few times a year now—it’s like the Information Age’s Phantom Tollbooth), No Starch’s Scratch and Arduino books are rock solid, and Jason R. Briggs’s Python for Kids is an excellent intro to Python for everyone (i.e., it’s how I learned enough Python to work on a documentation project with a U-M roboticist last year).
Also, I’ll level with you: These bundles (and book/game bundles in general) are a huge boost to authors/creators, both in getting our names and ideas out there, and in getting money into our pockets. When you buy a bundle like this, you’re doing a Good Thing™ for the dissemination of new art and human knowledge, in addition to getting a good deal.
Short version: Most office workers in the United States have a nearly 9-hour workday, but are only productive for about 3 hours. I.e., if you are a freelancer doing work that an office worker might do, then you can almost certainly make a decent living on ~3 hours per day.
Please stop beating yourself up and running yourself ragged. Focus on doing good work for half of each day and you’ll be just fine.
…it’s that every love note is a ransom note.
The Cone Mills plant in Greensboro, N.C. has been continuously weaving denim since 1905, and is currently the only U.S. plant producing selvedge denim. They’re calling it quits at the end of this year.
“Selvedge” is a specific style of denim produced in broad strips on relatively narrow shuttle looms using a continuous weft such that the edge is automatically finished—i.e., it produces a “self-edged” bolt of fabric that won’t unravel (if you’re looking at denim and the edge of the seam is white with a single thread of color—often red—then you’re looking at selvedge denim). Because it’s produced in narrower strips on shuttle looms (and usually with un-dyed weft), the fabric has certain characteristics in how it breaks in and ages, both in terms of fit and coloration. Some folks dig these. Other folks just dig putting their money where their mouth is, in terms of “Buying American.” I kinda like to do both, so I’m kinda bummed that Cone Mills is rolling up. Certainly the generations of weavers in Greensboro are bummed.
By the end of this year, you’ll only be able to get this prototypically American fabric from Japan. That’s still great selvedge (hell, it’s made on American machines: Japan bought them up in the 1980s when Levi’s et al. made the shift to larger looms), but it’s a bummer that this once uniquely American product is going extinct.
The only upside: When you see some Stars-and-Bars waving asshole in blue jeans popping off about “foreign manufacturing” next year, you’ll know he’s wearing jeans from Vietnam, and thus can go fuck himself. He didn’t put his money where his mouth was, and subsequently American selvedge denim died. That’s how economies work. Way to “Make America Great Again,” bro.
Anyway, if you’ve been thinking about getting into high-quality American-made denim, it’s sorta now or never. Brave Star is my go-to company on this: Incredibly reasonable prices given the quality, nice cuts, excellent craftsmanship, solid customer service, 100% American made: The denim is from N.C., the hardware from KY, the cutting and sewing in California.
Tuesday was my daughter’s first day of kindergarten. At 4:20, when her bus finally arrived, she didn’t get off.
The driver checked, first calling out from the front, then shushing all of the kids and calling out again, then finally going seat to seat down the length of the big yellow bus.
My daughter wasn’t there.
Don’t worry—this is an “all’s well that ends” situation: Due to a printing error her First Day of Kindergarten name tag didn’t have her bus number printed on it, and subsequently she’d gotten on the wrong bus. She ultimately wound up exactly where she should have been, all smiles and in fine fettle—albeit about an hour and a half late, following two bus transfers, and thanks to the intercession of three bus drivers, two transpo office workers, four school admins across two buildings, and one teacher. (The second day went smoother—in part because a neighbor kindly took it upon themselves to assign their first grader the job of making sure my daughter always sits next to her.)
You’re probably thinking “You must have been terrified!“, but the thing is, my son (now 11) also never showed up at the end of his first day of kindergarten. I can’t even properly recall how that came to pass, now, just that he didn’t get on any bus at all. This may have been due to some confusion about aftercare (which required he take a different bus to get to a different locale)—
but I seem to recall that the geodesic dome he’s on in the pic had something to do with it, too, being strategically located right next to the bus loading area, but on the far side of a hedge tall enough to block the play structure from view, but not thick enough to prevent a kindergartner from slipping through. An attractive nuisance if there ever was one.
Incidentally, his fish—a beta named “Electric,” given to him by an older boy who’d won it at a Labor Day fair, decided he didn’t want some stupid fish, and had thus stood in a gazebo and called out “Who wants a fish?”—had died that day while my son was gone at his first day of school. That would be lamely symbolic if it wasn’t just a fact.
Point being, the boy was fine, as you can see in the picture. He was more upset about the fish, and even that didn’t last.
Anyway, you’re probably thinking “You must have been terrified!“
But I don’t know that I was terrified then either, because I remembered the end of my first day of kindergarten. I remember it clearly, because it occasioned what I now recognize to be the first truly adult thought of my life:
I was the only kindergartener that rode my bus. The “safety” (one of a small cadre of fifth graders given fluorescent orange Sam Browne belts and tasked with holding doors, keeping the halls orderly, and making sure the little kids found their buses) led me down a long cinderblock-and-linoleum hall, where kids were other kindergarteners were lined up under construction-paper cut-outs of school buses. He stopped me in front of a red paper bus, taped high above my head on the wall, and said:
“This is your bus.”
He walked away. I stood there, alone, staring up at the two-dimensional red paper school bus, and thought to myself:
“How the hell am I supposed to get home on a paper bus?”
I tried to puzzle this out, and had a brief, vivid moment where I imagined myself shrinking down and flattening out like a Shrinky Dink™, transforming into a big-nosed black-and-white cartoon character (basically the kid from that 1980s Tootsie Pop commercial). Cartoon me moseyed up to the bus, the door accordioned open—just like the door of the real, steal, three-dimensional bus I’d ridden to school just after eating lunch with my mom (back then it was half-day kindergarten, and I had PMs)—and I climbed aboard. Then the paper bus chugged to life and cruised down the wall in a little Pig Pen-esuque swirl of penciled diesel fumes.
In that moment, and for a moment, I entirely believed in that scenario. It was the only thing that made sense. And then I recall thinking:
“No, that can’t be right.“
Soon enough another safety came and lead us kindergarteners, lined up like ducks, down to the turnaround where the real steel yellow schoolhouses were similarly lined up, and I discovered that my bus was identified with a number (that I could not read) written on a sheet of red construction paper—hence the red paper bus on the wall. So, sort of a semiotics lesson built into that first day of school to, I guess—although it was a bit above my head (pun? joke!)
Point being, kindergarten was my first time out of the home place, in a meaningful way. Going to kindergarten, among other things, meant my first brushes with anti-Semitism, with both the quiet, constant terror of bullying, and the quiet heroism of the few bigger kids who tried to stand up for you. And it was my first taste of solitude, being left to think my own slow, long thoughts in the intervals between assigned activities—something that I still treasure very much. I wasn’t me before I was finally left alone to be me.
But none of that was on the First Day.
On the First Day I had to grapple with staying calm when faced wth a seemingly impossible scenario: Here, kid, you’re six now; figure out how to ride a paper bus home.
In a lot of ways, my life has been a series of brief intervals separating moments of distorted, disconcerting reasoning–and in which the only thing that separated me from a Very Bad Turn of Events was that simple first adult thought:
“No, that can’t be right. Calm down and think this through.”
It’s the only useful response to the apparently endless string of Kobayashi Maru that make up our lives.
Not that I knew any of that then—for chrissakes, what do you expect? I was six; it was My First goddamn Day.
Listen: There is going to be a major attack on U.S. soil between now and, I dunno, probably the end of January 2018. (I personally think it’ll be earlier—possibly by mid-October—but depending on who is attacking, I think they might wait as late as Xmas/New Year’s in order to maximize mayhem).
I’ve been saying this for months, but I think most folks thought I was kidding. I’m not.
REMINDER: We’re likely 2 to 4 months from a major US soil attack. PotUS will use it to consolidate power. https://t.co/wiy1XddbSC
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 10, 2017
REMINDER: We’re probably not more than 4 months from a major US soil attack. My money’s on N Korea, but whoever it is, it’s a win for PotUS.
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) August 1, 2017
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) July 21, 2017
Hard to believe it’s just six months until a major foreign attack on U.S. soil!🇺🇸🔥 https://t.co/0nPayGb4Pd
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) May 16, 2017
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) May 13, 2017
Hard to believe it’s just nine months until a major attack on US soil! https://t.co/GZu9RG0Ynw
— David Erik Nelson (@SquiDaveo) May 1, 2017
A disorganized defender cannot defend. When your opponent is disoriented, you strike. It’s elementary, and holds in many fields: In business negotiations, in chess, in Go,in court, in bar fights and boxing matches, in battlefields and hardened bunkers.
Readers of a certain age will recall that the success of the 9/11 attacks was widely attributed to a “failure to connect the dots” within the Executive Branch (especially within intelligence and foreign affairs agencies). Why did we fail to connect the dots? Because there were empty seats throughout the administration, and the folks in many of the filled seats were still coming up to speed.
Rewind 11 months from 9/11, and you’ll recall we had an insanely close presidential election that ultimately needed to be decided by the Supreme Court. As a result, when G.W.Bush took office, his team had significantly less time to pull together their nominations than was the modern norm. 100 days in, he was still behind, with only about 35 confirmed nominees (there are several thousand positions that need to be filled by any incoming president, of which about 577 are considered vital by experts). 200 days in GWB had 294 nominations confirmed, roughly half of the most vital positions. In other words, on day 200 in office, G.W.Bush still had 283 empty seats in vital parts of the Executive Branch, and many of the seats that were filled had folks sitting in them who’d only had a couple months—maybe just weeks—to digest, consider, and route huge amounts of intel. About a month after that we notably “failed to connect the dots” and 19 dudes crashed four airplanes with the net result of 3,000 humans being cooked and crushed in the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and a Pennsylvania farm field.
I was teaching school that day, back in my old life. I stood in a room with a bunch of troubled teens and watched folks jump out of the World Trade Center towers rather than burn inside. I walked outside with a coworker. Our school was under several flight paths, but the sky was perfectly clear above us, no clouds, no contrails, no planes, because every plane in the nation was grounded.
But, man, that sky, so blue. So clear.
Within a year I was on a “selectee list.” For the next eight years every time I flew I was pulled out of line, searched, patted down, swabbed for explosives, questioned, stripped down to socks, pants, and undershirt. But, you know, whatevs, right? Terror. Safety. Patriotism. #America.
But my mind wanders. All apologies. More to the point:
How’s Trump Doing?
How’s Trump doing, in terms of getting the right folks in the right seats, and thus preventing another major attack and loss of life on U.S. soil?
Not great. In fact, he’s doing cataclysmically poorly. He was behind Bush on Day 100, and he’s now even further behind:
As of August 4, when the Senate left town for its August recess, Trump has nominated 277 people for key posts, has had 124 confirmed, and has withdrawn eight of the nominations, according to CNN’s tracker.
The Partnership for Public Service has identified 577 executive branch positions as being particularly essential — and Trump has only successfully filled about a fifth of them.
We got smashed in the mouth in 2001 because we only had 294 folks in 577 vital seats. Today we have about 124 folks on deck. Among those seats that remain empty: Most of the undersecretaries of state, assistant secretaries of state, assistant secretaries of defense, an undersecretaries of defense, and most of our ambassadors.
So Who is Coming to Hurt Us?
It’s a three-way coin toss, in my humble:
- North Korea
- Actual International Terrorists (like 9/11)
- Domestic Terrorists (I group someone like the Tsarnaev brothers or the Pulse Nightclub Shooter alongside Timothy McVeigh and Buford O. Furrow, Jr. as “domestic terrorists” for the reasons outlined in this very enlightening interview over on Slate: “Profiling White Supremacists Won’t Stop White Supremacist Terrorism“)
If I were a gambling man (and we all are now, here in the Zone of Maximum Mayhem) I’d put my money on #3.
Yeah, North Korea seems like an obvious choice: They can hit the U.S. mainland with any number of missiles, and they have a nuke small enough to mount on such an ICBM. They probably don’t have the reentry ballistics quite right just yet, which means the nuclear device won’t detonate properly, but a goddamn intercontinental ballistic dirty bomb plowing into D.C. or NYC is 1) well within N.K.’s capabilities and 2) not something you walk off.
But launching such an attack is actual suicide for that country—especially with our current PotUS—and regardless of what we say about the Kim regime, he’s not an actual lunatic; he has a country to run and a dynasty to maintain. Given how he’s behaving now, and in the absence of us launching a pre-emptive strike, I don’t see N.K. nuking us before Xmas. (See also North Korea’s latest launch designed to cause maximum mayhem, minimal blowback)
(All of that, of course, assumes the tests they’ve been firing have indeed been tests, and not a killdeer-like misdirection. If N.K. can cripple us in a first strike—say, by nuking LA, NYC, and DC in a single salvo—well, then I imagine they will, and probably sometime this fall.)
As for actual International Terror, believe it or not that’s on the wane in the Western world. When you stop calling everything involving a Muslim “international” and actually look at the facts of the recent attacks in the U.S. and Europe, you see that the last several “Islamist” terror events in the U.S. have a lot more in common with White Power hate crimes than 9/11. (Pulse Nightclub is a solid example of this.)
So that leaves us with Domestic Terror. I’m thinking it’ll be White Supremacists. The PotUS has done a lot lately to make them feel empowered, and those among them with basic arithmetic and reading comprehension skills absolutely understand that there will never again be a White Majority in this country. But that doesn’t mean it won’t be “Islamists” born in Newark or Peoria, or Antifa/Black Blocers looking to head off the impending pogroms, or good ole Militia/Sovereign Citizen folks (who despise the PotUS just as much as the Antifa folks do). They’re all in the same gang, at heart.
But who fucking cares, right? People are going to die—your friends and neighbors—at the hands of your other friends and neighbors, and a lot more are going to suffer, and we are locked in on those rails now, inextricable. These are how these dots connect, and it is far too late to do anything about it before it happens.
(Alternately, listen to and consider this: Episode 790: Rough Translation in Ukraine ’cause maybe I’m wrong, and we’ll go with a whimper, not a bang. And maybe we’re already gone—or, hell, maybe I’m the misinformation that stumbles out of Bethlehem to be born. Your call.)
Jesus! Dave, What Should I Do!?
I have no clue. Stay safe. Don’t hurt any one.